Norma Polanco-Boyd grew up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood in the 70s and 80s. It was a gritty, blue-collar neighborhood in the grips of a recession then, densely built with brick bungalows and walk-up apartment flats that housed every ethnic group under the sun. It was a great place to grow up, she says, and she has many vivid memories of walking to the library or corner store and playing in the local park.
“There were pockets that were a little dangerous, but elements that were really cool,” says Polanco-Boyd, whose Mexican-born parents immigrated to the U.S. before having kids. “My parents were lower middle-class, and Humboldt Park was affordable and close to their jobs. Growing up, I thought you had to be rich to live in the suburbs.”